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Transcript: Reps. Nancy Mace and Ro Khanna on "Face the Nation," August 27, 2023

U.S. heads toward "child care cliff"
Rep. Nancy Mace warns of "staggering" challenges Congress faces as U.S. heads toward "child care cliff" 08:52

The following is a transcript of an interview with Reps. Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, and Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, that aired on "Face the Nation" on August 27, 2023.

NANCY CORDES: We are back with South Carolina Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace and Democratic California Congressman Ro Khanna. Together, they launched the Congressional Bipartisan Affordable Child Care Caucus, that's a mouthful, to deal with the child care cliff that is barreling down the pike and I want to get to that in just a moment. But first want to talk to you about politics. Congresswoman, President Trump is now facing four indictments, and yet he is still the overwhelming favorite to win the Republican nomination. Can your party win the presidency if he is the nominee?

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Well, I think every- both sides are going to have to work hard to win next year. I talked to a lot of voters that are frustrated with both the Republican and Democrat Party. Both parties have put us on the spending cliff, you talked about child care cliff, which we'll talk about in a moment. But both parties have contributed to the inflation that we have today, the out of control spending, the debt ceiling that's going to add almost $20 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years. And I think both parties are going to have to make a strong case next year, regardless of who the nominee is. But, you know, we'll see what voters decide next year. 

NANCY CORDES: You think Trump is a good messenger for that case?

REP. MACE: He's running away with the nomination process now. We're still pretty far out, but he just raised over $7 million after the fourth indictment, so voters will get a say. I know that in my district and in my state he's the standard bearer for the nomination right now.

NANCY CORDES: Congressman Khanna, you said back in April that you felt that the White House was being too overprotective of the President, that it basically wasn't letting him get out there enough and be his authentic self. Do you feel that top aides in the White House got that message?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I think they do. The President has a great story to tell. He's bringing back manufacturing in Ohio, $20 billion dollars in Ohio of new industry. He is focused on the working class. I was actually just in South Carolina yesterday with Bishop Green at AME Church and the faith community has a lot of support for him. He's a better politician than anyone who works for him. Let him be out there.

NANCY CORDES: Congresswoman Mace, you are pro life. But you've also said your party's too extreme on abortion. And on the debate stage the other night many of the candidates put their support behind a national abortion ban at 15 weeks, perhaps even earlier. Your fellow South Carolinian, Nikki Haley, was not among them. She said that that's unrealistic. But do you think that position is going to hold up well with the GOP primary electorate?

REP. MACE: Well, certainly every candidate talked about being pro life and what their- what their limits may or may not be. But the only candidate on the stage that talked about how we should protect women and not demonize them was Nikki Haley. And that is a message that we have to carry through. We have to be pro woman and pro life. You cannot go after women and attack them because they make a choice that you don't like or do not agree with. Because it's a very sensitive subject right now, we want to show that we are going to protect women who've been raped, girls who are victims of incest. We want to make sure that every woman in this country, regardless of where she lives, or how much money she makes, that she has access to birth control. Those are the kinds of things that, we're going to talk about child care in a minute, but those are the kinds of things that really matter to women. And we have to show that we- that we care. And I do want to add that, I know that you were praising President Biden- the story that he has to tell, but the story he won't tell is a story about his family's business. He has lied every single time he's been asked about his family's business. He's lied about his involvement. He had a pseudonym, like you've done- if you've done everything up above board, why is there the need to lie for it? That is a story that I want to hear. That is a story that every American deserves. 

REP. KHANNA: If I could just respond to that-- 

NANCY CORDES: --Very quickly.

REP. KHANNA: --Representative Mace and I agree on a lot of things, but this president has shown integrity for 40 years, he has been completely transparent, he has allowed the law enforcement agencies to take their hold without interfering. And I think the American people will see that. 

NANCY CORDES: Well, when we come back, we're gonna get to a topic you both do agree on and that's child care. We're gonna take a quick break, but more with Congressman Mace, Congresswoman Mace rather, and Congressman Khanna on the other side. Stay with us.


NANCY CORDES: Welcome back to Face The Nation. I'm Nancy Cordes in for Margaret today. And we are back with Republican Nancy Mace and Democrat Ro Khanna. And the two of you are here because the US is facing a so-called child care cliff that most parents probably didn't know about. On September 30, just a little over a month from now, $40 billion worth of pandemic era funding for the child care industry is set to expire. And without it, up to 70,000 child care facilities could close and an estimated 3.2 million children could lose access to child care. These numbers are really frightening. What can the two of you do about it? And how quickly can you get legislation together so that Congress could consider it before the deadline?

REP. MACE: Well, it's staggering, the challenge before us. And Congressman Khanna and I, we've been good friends, we've been great lawmakers together, we've started a child care caucus. Our approaches may be different from time to time on different issues, but our goals are always the same. And these are issues that parents, especially moms, that they care about, and we have to address. From the perspective that I'm looking at, you know, we talked about four year old pre-K, we talk about making sure that parents have the freedom and the resources to have child care options, affordable child care options. I approach it from a less government regulation standpoint, we have some really crazy regulations in this country. Some places say you have to have a four year college degree. Well, that certainly makes it harder to find child care workers, increases in costs because of it. Other places say, well, if you're certified in one state, it's not reciprocal in another. And it's just you know, having some of those approaches that can be easy to fix, fast to fix, not controversial, that can pass that of a Republican controlled House, Democrat controlled Senate and get to a Democrat president's desk to be signed into law. That's what we've got to be working on.

NANCY CORDES: So what do the two of you agree on? 

REP. KHANNA: Well first of all, as divided as we are as a country, 86% of Americans believe that there- we need more support for affordable child care. This is something that unifies Americans. We have agreement on more training for child care workers, paying them more and having more flexibility. We have an agreement on some support, government policy support for child care. The average cost of a family for child care is $10,000 a year. And 85% of women say that they can't work because of child care issues if they're leaving the workforce. So we have- we need a short term solution, which is continuation of some of the grants and funding, the Child Care Stabilization Act, so we don't have this cliff and that the President signs- that we need a long term solution to reduce the cost to families.

NANCY CORDES: Experts say doing that alone would cost $16 billion. Congresswoman, you spoke earlier about the fact that you feel that both President Trump and President Biden presided over too much spending. But a lot of the solutions here, experts say cost money, universal pre-K, fully funding the Child Care Development Fund, subsidizing child care for low income families. What could you live with? And what do you think you could convince fellow Republicans to get on board for? 

REP. MACE: Well, I actually think it's less government, not more, that's getting in the way of this. We saw on December of 2018, when the Azar report came through making recommendations to states about health care policy and certificate of need. The same kind of thing could be said for what are some of the easy, low hanging fruit regulations that we can roll back? Or eradicate or recommend go away?

NANCY CORDES: Do you think rolling back regulations alone, though, can really get at the problem?

REP. MACE: It's a good start, because right now we're gonna have a very difficult time with the appropriations process because of the amount of spending that's going on, because of the additional supplementals. What are some of the small parts that will make a big difference in a mom's life? And that is one thing that I think a lot of us can agree on. It's not going to be easy, we do some large comprehensive spending package, it's going to have difficulty going through. So I'm looking for the small parts, big difference here policy-wise.

REP. KHANNA: This is an investment that is pro economic growth. I mean, businesses are losing billions of dollars, because we don't have people in the workforce, so it pays for itself. And then you look at the funding, you're talking about less than 1% of the defense budget. We're one of the only countries that is putting $10,000 of burden on ordinary families just to take care of their kid. It's pro family, it's pro economic growth. And we should have a consensus in this country to have the government make a difference here. 

REP. MACE: And incentivize businesses too and then make sure that parents have the money to be able to afford child care, less taxes would be great.

NANCY CORDES: It is so important because we've seen study after study that shows that early childhood education makes such a huge difference in outcomes later in life. So we really hope you're successful, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman, Ro Khanna, appreciate it. And appreciate you being here today. 

REP. MACE: Thank you.

REP. KHANNA: Thank you.

NANCY CORDES: And we'll be right back.

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